Rethymno was dominated for centuries by the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks. This long history has endowed the city with a charming mixture of Italian and oriental flair ... More info ›
Rethymno was dominated for centuries by the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks. This long history has endowed the city with a charming mixture of Italian and oriental flair. Follow us to the most interesting places where this mixture becomes tangible.
This is a
self-guided mobile tour provided by our tour-guide app. The tour is based on an award-winning storytelling concept and the fascinating narratives prepared by handpicked destination experts. Enjoy this multilingual tour by using your
Android or iOS smartphone or tablet
at your own pace, even if you are
interactive map on your screen will guide you step by step to explore all the points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of signature stories, allowing you to tailor this experience to your personal interests and schedule.
Rethymno: between East and West is a tour through space and time. It begins with the purchase of Crete by the Venetians in 1210 and culminates in the struggle for union with Greece in the late 19th century. As you walk from the Venetian harbour to the heart of the city you are constantly reminded of the town’s tumultuous past. Fortifications preserve the memory of the bloody conflicts between the Venetians and the Ottomans for control of Crete and the Mediterranean. Mosques and churches glorify the generals, admirals, bishops, artists, and pirates that once fought and triumphed (or perished) here.
Every building has a story to tell. The Kara Musa Pasha Mosque was initially a Venetian monastery dedicated to Saint Barbara but upon the city’s conquest, the Ottomans replaced the roof with a dome and added a minaret. Today the complex houses the Byzantine Antiquities Department. The Valide Sultana Mosque was named after the mother of the Sultan Ibrahim I who undertook the conquest of Rethymno but was too mentally unstable to rule, so his mother took charge of the government. The Rimondi Fountain was a gift to the city by a Venetian administrator, who wished to gain some favour in the afterlife and ensure the survival of his memory among the local populace. The Fortezza seems impressive with its thick walls and its seven bastions but in reality it was never effective; financial difficulties led to a fatal simplification of the initial design and opened the way for the city’s capture by the Ottomans after a brief 23-day siege.
There is even a distant connection with Miguel Cervantes, the celebrated author of Don Quixote. The Spanish writer fought in the Battle of Lepanto (1571) and in his writings he mentions Uluç Pasha, a Roman Catholic from Italy who was captured by the Turks, converted to Islam and rose to become an Ottoman admiral and ruler of Algiers. Along the way he managed to capture and plunder Rethymno a few months before his participation in the battle of Lepanto, opposite Cervantes.
To take this self-guided tour you will need the app on your iOS or Android device.
- Visit the Venetian Harbour and the Fortezza,
- Tour the city’s main commercial and historical streets (Arkadiou Street, Nikiforos Fokas Street) and squares (Plateia Tessaron Martyron),
- Learn about the lives and accomplishments of key historical figures in the history of Rethymno.